On January 15, 1978 Pope Paul VI promoted him to the episcopal ranks making him Titular Archbishop of Nova di Cesare and appointed him Nuncio to Chile. After ten years in this post Pope John Paul II recalled him to Rome making him Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Relations with States, the position occupied today by Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran (the 81st selection of the TOP 100 CATHOLICS OF THE CENTURY). After two years in this post, the Holy Father made him Pro-Secretary of State and he was afforded the dual honor of being elevated to the cardinalate and becoming the Pope's new Secretary of State during the Consistory of June 29, 1991 in which he received the Titular See of the Suburbicarian of Albino and the titular church of Santa Maria Nuova. For a more detailed profile on Cardinal Sodano, see 60th selection of the TOP CATHOLICS OF THE CENTURY.
Man's high destiny is to go to God, because man comes from God, and belongs entirely to God. Our reason tells us that Someone made us. That Someone is God. Nothing can proceed from nothing. If there had ever been a moment when nothing existed, nothing would ever have existed. Therefore, because we exist, we know Someone who made us also exists; that Someone is God. "He made us, and not we ourselves" (Psalms 99:3). "All things have been created through and unto Him" (Colossians 1:16).
Our reason also tells us that God must have made us for some purpose. God made man to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy forever with Him in the next. God made us for Himself. The end of man, as of all creation, is the glory of God; to manifest the divine perfections, to proclaim the goodness, majesty, and power of God. "The Lord hath made all things for Himself" (Proverbs 16:4). Whether he wishes to or not, man must manifest God's perfections, dominion, and glory. Man's very existence does this; even his sins will in the end show forth God's infinite holiness and justice. Through glorifying God, man is destined to share His everlasting happiness in Heaven. Man was created chiefly for the life beyond the grave; this present one is merely a preparation for the eternal life. In this life we are exiles, wanderers, pilgrims. Heaven, the Home of God, is our true country, our true Home. There God wants to share with us His own unmeasured bliss. "For here we have no permanent city, but we seek for the City that is to come" (Hebrews 13:14).
We belong to God. Since we are His creatures, we have certain duties towards God which we must fulfill. Religion teaches us what these duties are. Religion is the virtue by which we give to God the honor and service due to Him alone as our Creator, Master, and Supreme Lord. It is by religion that we know, love, and serve God as He commands us to know, love and serve Him. It is by religion, then, that we fulfill the end for which we were made, and so save our soul. In order to practice this virtue, we must: Believe all the truths revealed by God.
In religion we learn about God and His perfections. We learn something about His great love for us. We learn what is right and what is wrong. We learn what God commands us to do. We learn about the future that He has prepared for us.
In religion we carry out in our lives what we learn about the duties we owe to God, about His commands and wishes. Mere knowledge is not religion, and will avail us nothing. The devil has knowledge, but he has no religion. Religion includes the service of God in fulfilling what we have learned of our duties towards Him. Religion is not a matter of feeling; it is a matter of will and of action.
Our Lord Jesus Christ says: "Blessed are they who hear the world of God and keep it" (Luke 11:28). The Apostle Saint James said: "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves" (James 1).
The Mission, which also has offices in Amman and Jerusalem, was created by Pius XII in 1949, a year after the birth of the State of Israel, and following the first war between Arabs and Israelis.
The Mission's principal task is to help Palestinian refugees. Over the years, however, the Beirut office has also coordinated aid to the Lebanese, especially during the civil war in Lebanon (1975-1990). Once the Lebanese conflict was over, the Mission collaborated in the reconstruction of infrastructures and worked for the return of refugees.
Meeting with reporters in Beirut, Cardinal Silvestrini spoke about the Holy Father's trip to the Holy Land, and expressed the hope that tensions will ease between Christians and Muslims in Nazareth, which have been exacerbated recently by the proposal to construct a mosque in front of the Basilica of the Annunciation. The Cardinal believes that the climate could change, because the Muslims in Nazareth are showing "good will." He also confirmed that "work continues" on preparations for John Paul II's trip to Iraq.
Meanwhile in New York yesterday, U.N. Secretary General, Kofi Annan appealed to both Israelis and Palestinians to be conscious of the frailty of the peace process in the Middle East, and to halt all actions that could endanger it, referring specifically to border issues, Israeli settlements, Palestinian refugees, water rights and the future of the city of Jerusalem.
Kofi Annan gave this address on the "last International Day of Solidarity with Palestinians of the 20th century," which was decreed by the United Nations and is being celebrated today. The Secretary General expressed the hope that one of the first achievements in the new century will be the long-awaited peace and prosperity for Israelis, Palestinians and all peoples of the Middle East.
"I am pleased to praise both Ehud Barak, Prime Minister of Israel as well as Yasser Arafat, President of the Palestine Authority for their courage and wisdom in pursuing peace and reconciliation," Annan said. The U.N. Secretary General lamented that there are still difficulties, which constitute obstacles to progress in the peace process.
The Day of Solidarity was proclaimed by the U.N. General Assembly in 1977, to mark the anniversary of its November 29, 1947 resolution that divided Palestine into an Arab state and Jewish state, a decision that was rejected by the Arab countries. ZE99112907 and ZE99112903
The first to nod their assent to the Holy Father's words were the children, who received the Holy Father at 9 a.m., and who encouraged them to "guard your purity always," in a time of "a crisis of values."
The youngest children sang a song in Polish, because "in the land you left so many years ago, no doubt you left a piece of your heart," 10-year old Andrea said. The Pope appreciated the children's effort, and told them he likes to learn languages, so that he can "visit many countries," the lands of peoples who will come to Rome because of the Holy Year, which is already at our door.
"This year there is a more important reason that adds meaning and depth to the call to start on the road of Advent with enthusiasm," the Pope said during the homily. Because, as he reminded the congregation, this road will end "on Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day, when the much anticipated opening of the Holy Door in St. Peter's and in the Basilica of St. John Lateran will take place."
The Holy Father thanked this parish for the work accomplished for the Jubilee and, addressing the faithful of his diocese, said: "Christian Rome, do not hesitate to open the doors of your homes to pilgrims. Exercise fraternal hospitality with joy. The city and diocese of Rome will be able to welcome the pilgrims who will come from all parts of the world for the Jubilee, only if they know how to open their mind and heart to the ineffable mystery of the Word who became flesh."
For the Pope Christmas is not an anniversary, but something far more profound: a "meeting," he said at the end of his visit with the youth of the parish. "The night of Bethlehem is meeting the Son of God, meeting Jesus." ZE99112910
Meanwhile ZENIT interviewed the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints about the new beatification and canonization process established by John Paul II who, during his pontificate has canonized 296 saints, a figure that beats all records in the Church's history.
In an interview with Vatican Radio, Portuguese Archbishop Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints, explained how the procedures in the causes of canonization have evolved, allowing for this increase.
Q - What is the recent history of beatifications and how have they changed over the years?
ARCHBISHOP SARAIVA: The procedure in the Causes of Saints was given organic structuring in the 1917 Code of Canon Law. Later it underwent some changes. For example, Pius XI instituted the Historic Section for the Oldest Causes; Paul VI unified the diocesan phase with the apostolic, establishing only one process for the collecting of proofs of life, virtues, martyrdom and miracles. Later, Vatican Council II appreciated the need for more ample reform, which would keep episcopal collegiality in mind, and progress in technological sciences. The present Pontiff has tried to respond to this need with the 1983 reform, which provides for two phases.
Q - Could you explain how the beatification and canonization process is carried out?
ARCHBISHOP SARAIVA: In the first [phase] -- the diocesan, the bishop of the territory where the servant of God died (as a candidate for the glory of the altars is referred to), evaluates above all the candidate's reputation of sanctity in the people's eyes, to see if this fame is based on genuine sanctity of life and works. Once this information is confirmed, he proceeds to collect the writings and all the documentation relating to the person and activity of the servant of God. Later, with the Holy See's 'nihil obstat' a special tribunal is established to gather the testimonies of those who knew the servant of God. All the acts, documents and testimonials are then sent to the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which -- in this second phase, makes a thorough study to confirm if the servant of God lived the Christian virtues to a heroic degree, or if his death can be considered as a real martyrdom, or if the alleged miracle is really an inexplicable event by natural laws. These examinations are carried out by theological consultants and then by cardinals and bishops, who are members of the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Their judgment is then referred to the Pope who -- if he considers it opportune, ratifies the canonization.
Q - What is the essential difference between a beatification and a canonization?
ARCHBISHOP SARAIVA: The purpose of beatifications and canonizations consists in conferring the possibility of offering liturgical worship to the servants of God. But between these two proclamations there is an important difference. With beatification the Pope permits limited worship in particular places and communities, for example, in a diocese or religious Order. With canonization, the Holy Father prescribes that a Blessed be venerated as a Saint by the whole Church. In addition, canonization is a definitive judgment, unchangeable, on the sanctity of a person and it is a pronouncement that involves the Pope's supreme authority, touching on the pontifical dogma of infallibility. It is an opinion that is virtually agreed by all Catholic theologians. ZE99112906 and ZE99112901
Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo of Dili, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate of 1996, told Avvenire: "One cannot close one's eyes in the face of all that destruction." He pointed out that many thousands of people had been killed in an orgy of violence after the elections that brought victory to the independence movement of East Timor.
Bishop Belo criticized the world's leaders for waiting too long to step in, and thus allowing a tragedy to occur in East Timor. "On several occasions I asked for the international community to send a multinational force," he recalled; "but no one budged until it became evidence that they would have to intervene to stop the massacres."
When it did finally come, the international force did restore "peace and tranquility" to the land, the bishop reported. However, the people of East Timor must still confront the back-breaking task of rebuilding their society. "Everything has been destroyed," Bishop Belo said. "In East Timor, you cannot find a nail or a brick to rebuild your house. We have no houses, no schools, no work, no medicine. We lack everything."
The Catholic Church remains vital and active in East Timor, the bishop reported, despite the destruction of many church buildings and parish facilities. "We have already begun our own Jubilee: a jubilee of suffering and death," he said. "But it will also be a jubilee of hope." The Church, he said, "is always on the side of the people."